In this week’s Torah portion, we read the iconic story of Noah and the flood. Within the safe haven of the Ark, Noah and his family shelter in place for those long 40 days and 40 nights, contemplating what they would encounter and how they might move forward in the post-flood world. When time arrived to safely leave the Ark, G-d provided a rainbow – a sign of hope for what would lie ahead.
We can certainly feel some of the parallels to our current situation. Like the flood, these past eight months have wreaked havoc on the world that we have known and have accelerated reconsiderations and innovations as we prepare for the time when can emerge from this period of disruption and uncertainty.
I’ve been dreaming a lot about the “rainbows” which can give us confidence and optimism for the future. Let me share four short examples:
1) This week, I joined with hundreds of camp professionals and lay leaders from all over North America – virtually of course – for the annual JCamp180 conference, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. You couldn’t help but feel the powerful energy and excitement coming through the many screens. While celebrating how much the field has achieved together, so much sharing and learning took place during sessions covering critical issues as we plan for a safe and healthy summer 2021. At 91, Harold’s continued passion, boundless energy, and generous support help us all dream about future rainbows for the field!
2) Beginning this coming Sunday, the Jewish Federations of North America will convene virtually for its annual General Assembly (GA). Thousands of leaders will “Come Together” in an unprecedented display of unity and alignment. On Monday, during the “Jewish Together” plenary chaired by FJC Board Chair Julie Beren Platt, the Federation system will highlight the collaborative work of the key network organizations of our Jewish community, including Jewish camp! I anticipate we will feel the incredible resilience and creativity of our collective efforts and find strength and support which will help us continue to navigate successfully through these uncertain days – together! You can register for the GA here.
3) Our Jewish Camp @ Home initiative is under way. In partnership with Mosaic United, we are offering all Jewish camps their own customizable mobile app to engage with campers at home throughout the year. After the flood, the world operated differently, new norms were established, new covenants formed. In Jewish Camp @ Home we have leaned into what we learned this summer – that meaningful relationships can be created and sustained in the virtual space for our camp communities, and that the power of camp need not be relegated to summer months or in person experiences. Jewish Camp @ Home takes us to the next stage and we can’t wait to see how the field creates, innovates, and engages with this new tool. You can find out more by visiting its website and by checking out the app’s promotional video!
4) Finally, we have been receiving very encouraging reports from camps about early registration for this coming summer. We can all agree that campers and counselors alike will need camp now more than ever before, and based on the learnings from American Camp Association and from the Jewish day camps which operated in 2020, we’re encouraged that camps will be prepared to operate safely in 2021.
Let’s hope we can all dream of more rainbows which will provide strength and hope, inspiration and joy, as we look forward to Summer 2021 and beyond.